Translated by Dr.G.K.Vankar
Like dry firewood, Duda was ablaze. Every vein was afire. In every pore burned with the flames. He was stretching the strings of the drum. The drum was taut. Like that his daughter's belly, too, was taut. When he would beat the drum, the sky would fall, the mountains would thunder, and the clouds would burst. With one kick, lump of Babuji, muscle and blood was out. The foxes stopped crying, the walls of the house peeled off. The village that was destroyed seven times, will now be destroyed the eighth time. This drum, Duda's drum, Father Abha had given this drum. This drum has got whole village married. The drum danced, hopped, danced in circles, throughout the nights on the occasions of Koli marriages. Now this drum will not dance, will not hop, and will not jump. One beating and it will burst and the village will burn. For the eighth time the village will get destroyed. One Babauji was born , the enemy of the village. Fire… Fire… Fire all around. Duda will dance on one foot in the burning fire like Shiva, he will dance in circles. He will beat the broken drum and the fire will ablaze. His veins were bursting. Karsan blacksmith's large hammer was pounding on his temples, dhum…dhum…
As if he thrashed a bunch of fire-sticks, he beat his wife. daughter and two barely clad children. There was weeping, as if in the nest of street the birds screamed. Babuji is the wild he-cat with grey eyes. Duda had gone mad. He broke his poor wife's back without any fault of hers. He got hold of his daughter's braid and made her move in circles. He broke two pots, kicked in the belly.
'o father, help us, he will kill us!', they screamed. But Duda did not listen anything. Duda was a master drummer, like his father Abha. If he beat war drum , fire blazed around eighteen miles. The swords would shine. If he beat the drum for dance, children in their mothers' wombs would dance. He learnt the art by being constantly with his father. Like Abhimanyu, lying in his mother's belly he was listening drumbeats of his father, Abha. In the Koli marriages he would take a drink and begin to beat his drum, till sunrise next day. Whole night, neither Duda would tire , nor the Koli girls.
Duda was also mad about bhajans. He would sing whole night. From his throat, Raidas bhajans would spring like the village river. He would purify the tamboora with sprinkle of water, take it in his hand, sing bhajan and enter in some other world away from the earth. Duda bhagat, wonderful, wonderful! He would accept Prasad , he would take tea in the cup he used to bring in his pocket. Though in the durbar of God, all are equal, Duda would sit at a distance. Again purified with sprinkle of water , the tamboora would return to Narshi Bhagat.
His wife and daughter would go to Babuji's farm to weed. Duda would remain at home, stretch the drum strings. Duda's hands never took sickle to work on farm. His wife and daughter would bring firewood, beat bread. Duda is the king of drum, the devotee of tamboora.
Babuji , the wild cat with grey eyes. He would get drunk as soon as he woke up in the morning. He would offer even his horse a bucket full of drink. When he would ride the horse, both would be drunk. The moustaches like a dagger. Though he was barely a skeleton, if he got enraged he would consider nothing. He thrashed and thrashed Patels on their bare backs. He throttled his own sister, only because she faintly smiled to Magan Nai. Babuji is drunk all twenty four hours a day. If he passed through bazaar, banias would rise from their seats uttering , ' welcome bapu, welcome bapu,'
Duda thrashed his wife. Duda drank a potful of liquor in the Koli vas. "Slut, it's your fault only. Why did you allow the girl to go alone to weed in the farm alone? Why did you not die of cholera? Fever ? What fever you had? The village trembles with Babuji and you send the innocent, rabbit like girl alone in the farm? And then you say that Babuji tore away the girl's clothes? O slut I will break your back.."
Duda caught hold of the girl's hair and made her swirl. "Slut, why were you not born as a stone from your mother's womb? How could you nourish the sin of Babuji in your belly? Are the wells and ponds scarce in the village that you didn't drown?" Duda tightens the strings of the drum. He has drunk full pot of liquor at Hiraji Thakor's. The eyelids feel like closing. Every vein burns. Duda bhagat caught hold of Babuji in the open market. As if he were possessed with Ma Meldi, whole body shivered. "O bustard, you used force on a poor laborer's daughter? If you are so much strength, why don't you go to Vadodara and catch hold hand of King Gaikwad's daughter?"
Babuji weighs spear on Duda's chest. Duda bhagat is the one in whose heart lives Lord Rama.
Babuji is Ravana, the image of arrogance. Duda was a player of war drum and Now Duda's heart also beat like a war drum.
With one blow the spear fell down. Kalka appeared in Duda's body. "My daughter is daughter of the village. Are you not ashamed of stripping honor of an unmarried girl?" Enraged Duda gave Babuji two strong slaps. Those sitting at the temple platform rushed, "what a kaljug ! A Dholi beating a raj darbar?"
Whole village turned into a war drum. Dhrabang, dhrabang, dhrabang… in the square of Darbars, swords, spears and live torches gathered. Even a five year old child arrived with a stick used to drive away stray dog. Babuji is riding a horse. The taft of turban shines like a spear. He is totally drunk; his eyes are red, blood-shot. As if the outlaws have come to destroy the village, have set out to kill holy cows and Brahmins, and the villagers set out for combat, the Garasiyas followed Babuji.
The poor low castes shut themselves in their houses, Nayka women trembled like the flame of a lamp. "Duda, the sonless one, what came to his mind that he raised his hand on Babuji? Its dooms day, Its sign of Kalyug , o father!'
"O you live on the left over food of the village and you are raising hand on Babuji! What a justice? The low castes girls, low character too! Can you show, leave alone an unmarried girl, a married woman with a good character? Duda is an artist of drum. The village respects him for that. 'Did he raise his hand? Bapa, gazab ! its a sign of Kalyug." They set out to burn the Dholiwada.
The green will also burn with the dry; the innocent will also burn with the guilty.
Poor kites! Where will they settle at night?
Babuji is pungent like the chillies of Shanka Vaghri's farm. Darbars are given liquor since the first drink of life, since birth. They would drink from childhood. Very strong. Patels are also terrified with him. Did Babuji not grab breasts of Vanmalidas's daughter? But he belongs to a high caste. They would not utter a word. Urgently she was married off. Now, not tomorrow. He didn't do what Duda did. Now this will be the talk of the nation. The newspapers will caw caw like the crows. The village will be tarnished. How many ministers and social workers will throng the area, day and night? Who knows, B.B.C.may broadcast it, too.
The high castes are silent, the low castes tremble. The valiant army sets out. The drum of Duda walks ahead, what a strange thing? Not Duda, but his drum. Dhrabang dhrabang dhrabang…in early days, Raj darbars would set out of the village like this, to protect cows and Brahmins.
Dham dham dham… Duda's veins burst. He made a shining sword from the drumstick. "My father! Protect my honor, my brother, o drum! I have loved you day or night more than my son; with your sound let every child of this village and the sun and the moon in the sky above shiver. " Babuji darbar is the neighing horse, the drink astray, a shining sword and the torches burn. A bug of the village raised his hand on Babuji? If the head is cut the torso fights! Marad kasumbal rang chade! The kshatriya dharma will be in shame. Today it's a crisis for dharm. Today it's Babuji's insult; tomorrow it will be that of the village.
The light of the torches appeared. The limitless dust flew in the air. There were noise and shouts, the army is marching. The kites wonder, "what kind of Mahabharat is this?"
O cowards. The wife and the daughter, the father , the old men and women, no one is seen in the vas. Not even the dogs. Only Duda Bhagat, like Khetarpal, the protector God of the field. The drum on his shoulder, the drum sticks in hands. Dhrabang dhrabang dhrabang…It's Dadhichi's bones, Duda's drumsticks. Run o run! Dhrabang dhrabang dhrabang…run o run ..! Dhrabang dhrabang dhrabang…
A torch came flying like an arrow from Ravana! Duda's hut got fire.. The mountain Meru may move, but not Duda.
In the blazing fire stands Duda.. the drum jumps, the drumstick beats. Duda dances Tandava. In the blazing fire Duda turned into a roasted meat. Dhrabang dhrabang dhrabang… If the head is cut the torso fights. Marad kasumbal rang chade! O Duda, be glory to the mother who gave you birth!